I think collaborative beers between two (or more) breweries get a bit of a harsh rap at the moment. Lots of people seem to say that they're 'novelty beers', or 'one-offs' that are marketed at just the beer fan boys/beer geeks/hipster beer noobs who will 'obviously buy them' even though the price might be a little higher..
Let's look at that point first. Price. Yes 99% of the time the colab beers are a little more expensive, but if anyone actually took two seconds to think of why that might be the average joe might not run straight to the response of "It's just another one of those expensive limited beers that the posh beer geeks buy"..
If there are two brewers working on the same project, do you think they're going to spilt one brewers wages between them?? I reckon that might have a little something to do with price margins...
These brewers don't just do the colab beers to satisfy the supposed 'geek market' either. It's a fantastic opportunity for brewers to work together on a beer and share knowledge together. One might learn new techniques from the other and vice versa.. The other might use new ingredients they've never heard of before! It's in a brewers interest to try colab brewing really if they're interested in expanding and growing their information banks on beer. Show me a brewer who knows everything about beer and I'll show you a person who's stopped caring about brewing.
This brings me to tonight's beer.. obviously a collaborative brew;
Red Willow & Brewfist More Or Less - 6.1% Amber Ale
A proper looking amber ale if there was one, brilliant deep red mahogany appearance with crystal clear ruby clarity. The nose is chock-full of amber malts. Sweet toffee and caramels.. burnt sugars, dark cherry flesh and unripe plum skins. Plenty of stone fruit aroma too.. lots of apricot and hairy peaches.
It's a really juicy beer, full of fruit, plenty of fresh (not dusty/dry) American hops. It also has a great amount of caramel malt backbone to give it a depth of flavour that I've rarely seen in a amber ale! I think the addition of wheat and chocolate malts not only adds a slight sweetness to the beer but also a really pleasant softness making it very drinkable. It's one hell of a beer! I may even go so far as to say the best beer I've ever had from Red Willow..
More of this please!
At the end of the day, if collaboration beers still aren't your thing, no one's forcing you to buy them...